Growing Queen Corn on the Balcony | Dark Corn, Specialty Black Corn

Black corn has jet black kernels with a slightly purplish hue. Black corn grows on stalks that reach up to 2.5 meters in height. Black corn produces long, slender cobs around 20 centimeters in length, and is considered a medium-sized variety. Depending on the variety, the kernels may be white when young, only developing their dark color as they mature. Black corn does stain, and even removing the husks dyes your fingers purple. Black corn is chewy and starchy. It produces what is called an “old fashioned” sweetness, meaning that although it is sweet, it is not as sugary as modern varieties of yellow corn. Black corn is available in the summer months.

Black corn is an heirloom variety, and is botanically classified as Zea mays, the same species the yellow corn. In Peru, Black corn is also known as Maiz Morado, while in the United States and the United Kingdom, it may be referred to as Black Aztec corn or Black Mexican corn. Outside of South America, Black corn is not found commonly in supermarkets, and only occasionally in farmer’s markets. It is popular for its striking color, which also makes it popular as an ornamental.

Black corn contains anthocyanins, a plant pigment that is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Black corn contains essential nutrients such as iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, and vitamin A.

Black corn is good grilled, roasted, boiled and steamed. A simple combination of butter, salt and pepper enhances its flavor. Black corn is a versatile vegetable that may used in place of yellow corn. Black corn may also be ground into cornmeal and used for cornbread, tortillas, and Indian roti breads. Black corn should be stored in the refrigerator with its husks on.

The exact origins of Black corn are unclear, nevertheless it is an ancient variety grown by the Aztecs over 2,000 years ago, and used since ancient times in areas throughout South America, notably Peru. Black corn made its way into North American seed catalogues in the 1860s, and today, it is still considered to be a relatively uncommon variety outside of South America. Black corn requires warm temperatures to germinate and grow, and thrives in temperate climates with moderate to high amounts of rainfall.

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